The abelisaurid Carnotaurus was a peculiar theropod from Late Cretaceous Patagonia. Surviving up until the demise of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago, Carnotaurus was one of the last dinosaurs. At 25 feet long, Carnotaurus was likely a top predator in its ecosystem. The name means “flesh bull” and refers to the two wing-like brow horns protruding above the eyes and the animal’s characteristically short, deep skull. The holotype specimen was formally described by its discoverer, the famous South American paleontologist José Bonaparte, in 1985. The 2000 Disney movie “Dinosaur” helped moved the formerly obscure Carnotaurus into the public spotlight, albeit with a fancifully beefed up reproduction of the animal that approached T. rex in size, but also with the added bonus of more toy lines introducing their own version of Carnotaurus.
The Schleich Carnotaurus was likely a product of the Disney movie hype because it was released in 2001 while kids were still all abuzz with Carnotaur fever. It had a five year run and was retired in 2006. The figure is almost 7 inches long and 3.5 inches tall, scaled to 1:40. The color scheme is another take on that dull Schleich brown. The figure is molded in brown plastic with darker brown stripes on its sides and going down the spine. The skin has a wrinkly texture with folds of skin around joints and on the neck. The lateral rows of bumps on the skin are accurate to fossil evidence for Carnotaurus. Other than that there isn’t a whole lot of detail. The eyes are orange with black pupils and the teeth are white.
The tripod pose of this figure is very static and boring, and the mouth isn’t even open. Instead it has a goofy kind of reptilian smile. A lot of Schleich’s theropods have closed mouths, even more recent ones like their new Spinosaurus and Allosaurus figures. I presume this is to keep the sculpt simple and cut down on molding costs, which Schleich seems to favor instead of producing figures with a real “wow” factor. Bad form, Schleich.
Carnotaurus is my favorite theropod, but unfortunately this one is another example of Schleich’s failure to produce a good respectable sculpt. The largest problem is with the head. Carnotaurus has a very characteristically shaped skull which is short and deep, but this figure’s is too thin and pointy. It just doesn’t quite look right at all, and it doesn’t help that the mouth is way too big. Viewed head-on you can see that the skull looks very thin and too compressed, especially toward the rear. The arms are also inaccurate and are very crudely sculpted in addition to being too long, but at least they aren’t pronated. The number of digits on its hands is accurate. The generic “theropod” feet complete this ugly figure.
One thing that shows that Schleich at least payed some attention to reconstructions of this animal is the presence of the dermal scutes on the figure’s back and sides. Carnotaurus is one of few dinosaurs which has been discovered with associated skin impressions, and they preserve the presence of these scutes. The brow horns are also present but they are a bit too small.
Despite the awkwardness of most of their dinosaur figures, I still consider Schleich’s Replica-Saurus series to be highly collectible. I do remember being a bit underwhelmed by this one when I received it through a special order at my local toy shop years ago, but I’m still happy to have it. If you’re a hardcore Carnotaurus fan and don’t care too much about how ugly this one is, then cruise ebay for it because that’s the only place you’ll find it anymore.